Top 10 WWE Superstars of the ThunderDome Era



#4. Edge

It’s a bit of a shame he was injured after his program with Orton, but we cannot skim over the fact he returned from what was a life-threatening condition. While predictable, winning this year’s Royal Rumble was accepted by many because he proved he still has it through his encounters with Orton. Did he need to win from the #1 spot? Maybe not. Should he have beat Reigns? Or at least not taken a double pin with Daniel Bryan? It’s debatable. But what isn’t is the fact that he absolutely loves this business, and it shines through in everything he does.

You can put him up against any promo guy in the world and he’d hold his own. In terms of pure storytelling, there is a reason Edge is one of the most accomplished WWE Superstars of all time. Coming back and showing he has improved this aspect of his game is testament to how much he has grown as a person and entertainer. Edge’s time is coming. He may be the only one who can dethrone the Tribal Chief, and it’s his work in the ThunderDome shows which laid the foundation for this dream to become reality.

#3. Drew McIntyre

It all began with a Royal Rumble victory. Going to WrestleMania to face “The Beast” Brock Lesnar should have been a memory taking place in front of thousands of screaming WWE fans. Yet, it wasn’t, and McIntyre had to settle for something empty. He carried the WWE Championship without knowing how the crowd would react to his entrance. Even now, he eagerly waits to find out how his work has changed how he’s perceived.

When he was WWE Champion he was booked extraordinarily strong, almost to the point it was sickening. It helped a lot when he lost the title to Randy Orton, because it showed us he isn’t invincible. He fought hard to get it back, but his second reign didn’t feel the same. There was a lack of long-term planning, and he didn’t have any serious rivals. With Bobby Lashley coming along and taking the title from The Miz, I think many expected McIntyre to take it back, eventually.

Somehow he never did, and it makes us wonder if he will ever reach the top again. Through everything though, Drew McIntyre went in to the ThunderDome as WWE Champion and carried Raw through much of it. Because of this, he sits at the top of the pile as the top WWE Superstar on Raw. He’s more of a star now than he was, whether or not he holds the WWE title.


#1. Bayley

I can’t separate them, which is why this list has two #1 superstars. Consider Bayley the best female WWE Superstar of the era, as her heel persona carried SmackDown through hard times, even before the other #1 returned to TV. I still can’t believe she’s the same woman who did everything to get her kid-friendly NXT hugger gimmick over. Bayley’s not the same person anymore. Could you imagine if she went back to that now? It would suck on so many levels. No one wants to see Bayley hugging anymore, because The Role Model character is foul.

She has set the bar, not just because she is so easy to hate, but because of how outward and funny she can be. It reminds me of how we’d laugh at Ric Flair, Ted DiBiase or Mr. Perfect, not because they were heels, but because of things they’d come out with. You might not like her, but her work ethic in the ThunderDome shows can’t be ignored. She has worked extra hard to ensure SmackDown is the show to watch without a live audience, and it’s sad that she got injured just before we were set to get the WWE Universe back.

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#1. Roman Reigns

Impressive. Majestic. Imposing. Just some words to describe Roman Reigns’ new persona. The WWE Universe asked for this! For years, we begged, we pleaded, we got on our hands, knees, and would’ve bent over backwards if it meant WWE stopped treating him like Cena and turned him heel. We hated this man! Remember how hard the fans booed Reigns?! It was sometimes worse than Cena. We were so sick of WWE choking us with their persistent pushing down our throats; it was nigh impossible to breathe. All the predictable victories put us off watching anything involving Reigns. His appeal was non-existent because he still looked like he was in The Shield with the same old attire and entrance music.

There was no character, along with no signs of showing any personality to pique our interest. All he had was the look, and a move set going off like clockwork. It was robotic, dull, unimaginative, and insipid, so when WWE finally pulled the trigger, it was like a breath of fresh air. We still hate the guy, but it’s more because of him embracing what we didn’t like to begin with. His ego is on another planet, and I dig that, because heel champs should be holier than thou. They need to place themselves on a pedestal because we won’t, and by doing so, it makes us want to see someone dropkick them off their perch.

The Tribal Chief is so high up that his reaction will be fierce if he’s ever knocked off. I’m still curious to see how he would handle not having the title, but for now, it’s not a bad thing that he’s the #1 superstar in WWE. Because that’s how wrestling works! You need to make someone “The Man”, because that’s how you make stars. Having Paul Heyman at his side adds another a smart side to him, but not in the way he was for Brock Lesnar. Reigns has his own mind and doesn’t need Heyman to micromanage every little thing he does, which means he has more range.

Heyman acts like an advisor, but in no way severely influences what he wants. He may help steer Reigns in the right direction, but if he doesn’t want to go his way, Paul isn’t changing his mind. This leaves things open for Reigns to make mistakes down the road, but for now, his choices (even against Heyman’s advice) have been sound. He has shown that he doesn’t really need a manager, but he has one anyway because it adds a layer to his character. Reigns isn’t like Brock Lesnar or CM Punk, he’s something in-between.

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